With less than two weeks remaining, rankings shift to highlight premier talent
By Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo
MLBPipeline.com has just unveiled an updated and expanded First-Year Player Draft Top 200 Prospects list. While Lake Mary (Fla.) High shortstop Brendan Rodgers remains the top-rated talent, much has changed since our previous installment last month.
Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi has made the biggest move up the list, going from No. 63 in April to No. 8 with less than two weeks remaining before the Draft. The Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Benintendi is one of two NCAA Division I players with at least 15 homers and 20 stolen bases. The other is North Florida outfielder Donnie Dewees, who is also trending upward from No. 51 to 35.
Benintendi looks like a lock to go among the top dozen picks, while Dewees should factor into the second half of the first round. Another player pushing his way into the first round is Kennesaw Mountain High's (Kennesaw, Ga.) Tyler Stephenson, who has established himself as the best all-around catcher available and has been mentioned as a possible No. 1 overall pick by the D-backs. Stephenson's ranking has improved from No. 47 to No. 18 in the past month.
The three previously unranked prospects making the highest debuts in the Top 200 are Alton (lll.) High left-hander Bryan Hudson (No. 71), Grainger High (South Rutledge, Tenn.) third baseman Trey Cabbage (No. 72) and Arizona State right-hander Ryan Burr (No. 76).
The best prep pitching prospect to come out of Illinois since Mike Foltynewicz five years ago, Hudson is very projectable at 6-foot-7 and has one of the best curveballs in the Draft. Cabbage profiles well at the hot corner, with solid hitting ability, power potential and arm strength. The Sun Devils' career saves leader, Burr has a mid-90s fastball and could reach the big leagues quickly as a reliever.
All but one of the players on April's Top 100 made the new Top 200. Allen (Texas) High infielder Kyler Murray (No. 34 a month ago) had one of the highest ceilings in the Draft, but he rendered himself ineligible by declining to take part in the pre-Draft process (submitting medical reports, taking a drug test) required of anyone ranked among the top 200 prospects by the Major League Scouting Bureau. Also the nation's top-rated dual-threat quarterback prospect, Murray did so in order to prevent teams from trying to lure him away from playing football and baseball at Texas A&M.
Here's how the Top 200 breaks down:
High school vs. college
It's a fairly balanced list, with the prepsters having a slight edge. Ninety-nine of the prospects come from the high school ranks, compared to 91 college players and 10 who hail from junior colleges or IMG Academy's (Bradenton, Fla.) post-graduate program. High schoolers have a bigger advantage in the top 100, with 59 representatives versus 42 from college and four "others." Between 101 and 200, the college players catch up with a 49-45-6 advantage.
Not surprisingly, pitching rules the list, with a total of 115 arms in the Top 200. Want to know why lefties are in such high demand? The supply isn't as great. There are just 32 southpaws on the list, compared to 83 right-handers. There's depth at shortstop in this class, starting with Rodgers and Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson as the two best prospects, 13 shortstops in the Top 100 and 17 total on the list.
The complete tally by current position:
RHP -- 83
OF -- 41
LHP -- 32
SS -- 17
3B -- 10
C -- 7
2B -- 6
1B -- 4
Where are they from?
There are 32 states plus Canada represented in the Top 200. Not surprisingly, the warm-weather states lead the way. California has 32 players on the list, and Florida isn't far behind with 30.
The most productive states:
California -- 32
Florida -- 30
Texas -- 20
Georgia -- 16
Tennessee -- 10
South Carolina -- 8
Arizona -- 7
Louisiana -- 7
North Carolina -- 6
Missouri -- 5
Virginia -- 5
The 2015 Draft will take place from June 8-10, beginning with the Draft Preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on June 8 at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on June 9.